David, men’s lacrosse team long stick midfielder (lsm), plays one of the most demanding positions in the sport. He relies on a rare combination of speed, strength, and endurance to execute plays, block attackers, and run the field. These physical attributes kept the team in game after game, and teammates learned to count on David to propel them forward. Little did David know that these same attributes would be transformed spiritually into keeping him in the game, too.
A few years back and toward the final third of the season, as Neumann University men’s lacrosse made a run toward conference playoffs, David took a monumental hit from an opposing player. Stumbling to a knee, David became woozy and disoriented, suffering from the effects of what was immediately diagnosed to be a severe concussion to the head. As athletic trainers assisted him off the field, David admonished his buddies to stay focused, to trust that he was fine.
Unfortunately, David was not exactly “fine:” the concussion forced him to spend the remainder of the season on the sidelines. That is when his spiritual transformation took place. From game to game as David and I paced the field’s perimeter together, I found him confronting the giant, a monster that dedicated athletes refer to as “being shut down.” David confronted the giant by converting his speed, strength, and endurance into faith, leadership, and guidance. During these moments it seemed as if David were playing a new position – spiritual faceoff champion. It seemed to me as if my role as team chaplain were being imparted upon a protégé. Quickly, assertively, and steadily, David transformed into a presence for his teammates who would go to him to seek advice, voice criticism, and diffuse frustration. Between scores and after timeouts, players rushed to the sideline, David and I patrolling together, and sought our counsel.
During that final, crucial third of the season, David faced his Goliath. In the end, David’s spirit and character overcame the giant’s concussive force and propelled the team to a series of victories.